Legal points to consider after a marriage proposal
It was refreshing to see some positive news yesterday with some happier lockdown stories.
BBC news reported on “couples for whom love doesn’t wait” and focussed on a number of happy couples who have become engaged to be married in lockdown.
Whilst lockdown may have changed the way the proposal could be carried out, and it may have been in front of the TV or during exercising in the park, rather than on a luxury holiday, that makes it no less special or exciting.
In fact, coming up with an imaginative lockdown proposal or becoming engaged in the comfort of your own home (and where you may have built your lives together and overcome the stresses of the last few months) might actually be the most romantic thing.
Lockdown can also be a great time to plan a wedding as most of us have a bit more time at home to think about what the dream wedding day will entail as and when the restrictions are eventually lifted. Amongst the excitement about picking the perfect dress, the suit, the wedding band etc, couples often forget to consider the legal implications of marriage.
Whilst it might seem a little unromantic, it is actually really important to “get your ducks in a row” and have a conversation with your fiancé about what marriage may mean for any assets that you own either in your sole name or that you jointly own. You should understand what would happen to them in the event that things didn’t go to plan in the future and if you were to divorce later on down the line.
Here are two practical points that you may wish to think about and discuss with your fiancé:
1. If you are going to jointly own a property, do you know how you are going to own it? For example, will you co-own the property as ‘Tenant’s in Common’ or ‘Joint Tenants’.
If you choose to own a property as ‘Tenants in Common’ you and your partner will have your own distinct shares in the property, and in the event of your death your share would pass under the terms of any Will that you have or under the rules of intestacy.
If you own the property as ‘Joint Tenants’, your share would automatically pass to the other co-owner in the event of your death (and irrespective of any Will that you have). It is important to understand the legal implications of both these options and make an informed decision.
2. Have you considered a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
A Pre-Nuptial Agreement can help to protect assets that you are solely bringing into the marriage for example. Despite not being legally binding, Pre-Nuptial Agreements are being upheld more commonly by the court if couples later choose to divorce. If you are considering entering into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement there are a number of procedural safeguards that need to be complied with, which a lot of people do not realise, and which include the following:
- That both of you take independent legal advice on the terms of the agreement;
- That it is ‘fair’ to the financially weaker party (and a family solicitor can advise you as to whether that is the case);
- That there is financial disclosure of both your and your partner’s assets;
- That it is not entered into less than 28 days before the wedding.
It is important that you consider your legal options and understand the implications of marriage generally. The above outlines just two points which may help you open a dialogue with your fiancé.
If you require any legal advice in relation to Pre-Nuptial Agreements generally (or any other area of family law) then please do not hesitate to contact one of the team on 01625 544 650.